125 Stanford Stories

NO. 89
Stanford Today

The purposeful university: Marc Tessier-Lavigne’s inauguration

In his address, the new president urges Stanford to “be fearless”

On Oct. 21, 2016, Stanford celebrated the beginning of a new era by inaugurating its 11th president, neuroscientist Marc Tessier-Lavigne. 

In his inaugural address, Tessier-Lavigne praised Stanford as “a purposeful university that fosters education, research and creativity for the benefit of humanity.” 

By this, he said, “I mean a university that promotes and celebrates excellence not as an end in itself, but as a means to magnify its benefit to society … Given our great gifts, that is not just our mission, but also our responsibility – to work to advance the social good, boldly and confidently, but also with humility and empathy.” 

Tessier-Lavigne called on Stanford to nurture both the pursuit of knowledge and its application. He said the university “must reaffirm the importance and value of a broad or liberal education – liberal in the sense of ‘liberating the mind.’ 

“Today’s students will change jobs frequently, the jobs available to them will evolve rapidly, their careers will last over half a century, and they will have to work effectively with people from varied cultures and backgrounds. A broad-based education is their best preparation.”

He said, “Inclusion must be central to our efforts in the coming decade.”

And he called on Stanford to be courageous in sustaining “a culture of free expression and mutual respect.… When we have the courage to challenge ideas, embrace our differences and learn from each other, our potential is truly unlimited.

“That is the power of diversity.”

Watch the video of the entire ceremony in Frost Amphitheater.

See video highlights in this brief clip.

Read the prepared text of Marc Tessier-Lavigne’s address.

Learn more about the inauguration and see more photos of the event.